Bosporus Tour By Boat

We began our day with a former student of Professor Bozdogan, architect and artist Neyran Turan, who discussed her multimedia immersive art exhibition, Bogaz (“Strait”) – a sharply satirical commentary on development, conservation, and Istanbul’s urban fabric that included video and a walkthrough representation of the entire Bosporus shoreline, based on an ingenious fractal design – and offered us a private viewing of the exhibit.

After the exertions and exhilaration of the previous day, Professor Bozdogan kindly planned a restful, peaceful agenda that proved just as illuminating: a seaborne tour up and down the length of the Bosphorus. Professor Güvenç expounded on a host of topics from Turkish etymology (Boğaziçi, or “Bosphorus,” is derived from bogaz, “strait,” a word which also simply means “throat”) to maritime commercial practices (every passing vessel is given the chance to hire a seasoned Bosphorus naval expert to steer the helm). He and Özlem Altınkaya Genel provided background knowledge on the unique urban fabric spawned in the space between continents. They also spoke about their ongoing geographic work at the Istanbul Studies Center, and the historical resources they have mined for data. Before the trip’s end, we would find ourselves making use of the many insights culled from their research.

As we took in the shorelines and skylines of Istanbul’s three topographical domains, divided and connected alike by its active waterways, we reflected on our research efforts from the past year. Several of us had made these horizons our very topic of focus . The pace and scale of construction and development was staggering. Even those of us who had spent years living and studying in this place were overwhelmed, in passing moments, by the changes to the city’s silhouette. With our past work in mind, we congenially debated our future collaborative research steps. The aged, layered and shifting monumentality of the city’s skies and shores provided plenty of themes to anchor our efforts, but we sought after a case study.